H.G. Estok

Biography

I read books. Ack!

Books

This member has not published any books.

Smashwords book reviews by H.G. Estok

  • West of the Texas Nebula on Feb. 24, 2013

    A rip-roarin' shoot 'em up with plenty of hot lead to go around. I wouldn't mind reading another space western by these authors, so I sure hope they've got a few more up their sleeves.
  • Beyond the Veil on Feb. 25, 2013

    A chilling glimpse of the afterlife, this tale is full of fast-paced action and witty dialogue that will have you reading on the edge of your seat. Zombies, grotesque humanoids, ghoulish gnome-like ants, this story has it all -- even a knight to lead the charge against them.
  • The Crooked House of Coins on April 23, 2013

    Here's a haunted house tale where the house itself is a major player -- in addition to the specter or two stirring within its walls. James and his cousin Nathan are in search of treasure, but their relationship is strained at best, and James is having difficulty believing what Nathan tells him about the house and its history. As a reader, I had my doubts about the reliability of both characters, which served to amp up the conflict and make for an enjoyable read.
  • Zero Hour 2: More Stories of Spiritual Suspense on May 25, 2013

    If Rod Serling had ended each of those good ol' Twilight Zone episodes with scriptures from the Good Book instead of poignant platitudes, the stories collected herein would have fit perfectly. But these tales go far beyond being reminiscent of that classic series; Setzer's stories stand on their own, and they stand apart. Each one pulls the reader in unawares with realistic dialogue and genuine characters, and by the time it's clear something is amiss (with the appearance of a crazy old lady, or time travel, or doppelgangers, or angels, or demons, or plant monsters), we're so invested in these fictional people that we've got to find out what happens next. That's the hallmark of good, old-fashioned storytelling. I had difficulty following just a couple of the stories (probably because they were sequels to tales from the first volume: Zero Hour: Stories of Spiritual Suspense), but my favorite of the bunch has to be "Zap Zachary Returns." It has the flavor of Galaxy Quest to it and could easily be expanded into a very humorous SF serial.
  • That Mama is a Grouch on June 01, 2013

    This children's book would make a perfect gift for an older sibling of a new baby. It's normal for the first child to feel out of place when the new edition (addition) arrives, and it can seem like Mom is grumping all the time. But she's not really angry as much as she's sleep-deprived; try explaining that to a 5-year-old, though. So that's where this book comes in, and it does the job nicely. I have to admit, when I saw the cover, I thought the story was going to be an introduction for children to the hazards of PMS. (Seriously, I used to think my mom was going to tear me limb from limb at least one week out of every month.) Maybe that could be the topic of Sherry's next book...
  • Sixpence and Rye and a Snake in a Pie: A Fractured Nursery Rhyme on June 06, 2013

    "Revenge gone horribly wrong" -- indeed! This short tale is a good reminder that by seeking vengeance we hurt only ourselves. Well-written with clearly defined characters and a style of prose perfectly suited to the time period, "Sixpence and Rye" will haunt your thoughts long after you've turned off your eReader for the night.
  • Fealty (The Super Chronicles, #1) on June 25, 2013

    I'm a big fan of superheroes, from the early serials to the campy 1960s Batman to Nolan's Dark Knight. FEALTY capitalizes on some of the post-hero themes from THE INCREDIBLES, and while there's enough campiness to inspire a smile throughout the narrative, there are some serious elements in FEALTY as well. Scott Archer has a decision to make. Will he don his persona from the past to aid an aging hero, or will he forsake his alter-ego and fully embrace his current job as a sports reporter? When the evil Fish-Face forces his hand, Scott finds that it's still in his nature to be heroic. I enjoyed this tale and hope Mr. Setzer writes many more adventures for Fang & friends.
  • Just Passing Through (The Super Chronicles, #2) on Aug. 06, 2013

    In this short story, Colby has an incredible supernatural power, but due to circumstances and personal choices, he doesn't use it for good. When Verdict, a legalistic "super" in his own right, appears as Colby's judge and jury, our anti-hero finds himself on the run from the police thanks to Verdict's meddling. This is a fast-paced, action-packed story that fleshes out the adage "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Colby may not have learned his lesson in the end, but he definitely learned something about himself and will have to think twice about breaking the law in the future.
  • Witching Hour on Aug. 17, 2013

    I don't usually read much magical fantasy, but I enjoyed these three tales, each involving witches (or Wycka) in some way. The first story, "The Standing Stones of Erelong," is a heart-warming tale of love, loss, and resurrection. The last story, "Slieau Whallian" (no idea how to pronounce that one), involves a young female protagonist with the Sight -- and perhaps more powers bubbling beneath the surface she has only begun to fathom. My favorite of the three is the longest, sandwiched right in the middle: "A Sorcerous Mist". Quirk and McBride walk onstage fully formed as characters you want to get to know; the story is well-structured and multilayered; and in the end, it's a very satisfying read.
  • A Promise of Glory - A Sword of Otrim Story [Short Story] on Aug. 17, 2013

    This installment of the Otrim Saga introduces us to Paeter's backstory and shows us how he came to ride with Otrim and Terell (who also need their own origin episodes at some point). I mentioned in another review that there's a disconnect between Otrim the Barbarian and Otrim the Bible-thumper, but this episode brings that conflict front and cent as the characters discuss being both peace-crafters and warriors. I would like to see Otrim and Paeter struggle more with their bloodletting in future episodes; separating a man's head from his shoulders should not come easily to them, considering their faith/upbringing. "Promise" is another well-written chapter in a series I'm enjoying, and I can't wait to read what happens next to these engaging characters.
  • Night for the Gargoyles on Nov. 17, 2013

    This short story (which evolved into a novel forthcoming from the author) sets the stage for an epic battle to come. Gillen, the gargoyle protagonist, is a likable creature, and his interactions with the human girl Britt are enjoyable and believable. Some of the interior monologue lines threw me because they weren't italicized, but I thoroughly enjoyed this tale overall. To hell with the devils!
  • Taking Vengeance on Nov. 17, 2013

    The power of a mother's love (be she human or half-elven) comes through loud and clear in this novella. I enjoyed the fantasy aspects -- mindspeak, in particular, as well as the transferring/teleporting -- and the humor throughout was just great. The ending definitely leaves more of the story to be told, and as this novella takes place in a much larger world with its own history, that makes sense. I'm sure there will be many more half-elven tales published in the near future!
  • The Siege of Peter Marak on Nov. 17, 2013

    A very fun yet frightening tale of germaphobic paranoia gone awry -- with a special guest appearance by Lou Ferrigno! (You'll have to read it to find out how the Hulk fits in.) I particularly enjoyed the bonus content at the end; Setzer gives the reader a detailed peek behind the curtain at the genesis of this interesting tale and how his own life experiences came to shape the story arc.
  • The Widows Greer on Nov. 18, 2013

    This suspenseful story is a sequel to "The Watchman" in Setzer's ZERO HOUR collection, but it stands well enough on its own. A grieving widow suddenly comes onto the narrator -- his first clue that all is not as it seems. There are greater supernatural powers at work, and the final showdown between good and evil is tense and well-executed. Stay tuned for more tales of the Watchman!
  • Faces in the Shadows on Nov. 18, 2013

    Kewin is a master at imbuing the fantastic with real characters the reader cares about -- be they flesh and blood or phantasmal. My favorite tale in this trio would have to be "Her Pale Smile" with its humorous yet heartwarming tone, but all three are fine reads and definitely worth the price of admission...into the afterlife.
  • Black Pageant on Oct. 29, 2014

    These are some of the best horror stories I've read in a while. Mr. Cone has a classic style to his prose that carries you along effortlessly. Then he socks you in the gut when you least expect it. I found myself engrossed, startled, and chilled by these well-written tales. Honestly, I can't pick a favorite—nor one that I didn't enjoy. The ending of "The Sound of Rain" in particular surprised me, and I like being surprised; my mouth may have hung open at the climax. A highly recommended collection of stories sure to linger in your mind long after you power down your Kindle for the night.
  • After Dusk on Oct. 29, 2014

    This short story collection has it all: ghosts, a haunted house, golems, a witch, plants with tentacles, killer bugs, and time travel of a sort. Darkness pervades each tale, as do strong female characters that are often missing in genre fiction. Cole's work is well-written, poetic at times but never at the risk of slowing down the narrative, and she creates characters you identify with and root for. Her prose is gripping, keeping you glued to your Kindle to find out what happens next. My favorite stories were "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" (the most creative case of dissociative identity disorder I've ever read), and "The Invasion" (it had me checking the closets and scratching at myself every time I felt at itch). "The Wall of Never Doubt" is fabulously written, and I can see why it was a contender in the 2011 Writer's Digest competition. It provides a satisfying finish to a fine collection. I'm glad I have my copy; I'll be reading these stories again come Halloween.
  • The Shadow People on Oct. 29, 2014

    I enjoy survival horror -- not the slasher/splatter variety; but I also appreciate stories like THE SHADOW PEOPLE that toy with common fears. When I was a kid, darkness terrified me. As an adult, I'm still known to keep a light or two on in the evenings when I'm alone -- if only to keep from stubbing my toe. But I've never considered the possibility of my own shadow taking on a life of its own and committing atrocious acts of violence. Erin Cole's imagination is a wonderful thing, and in THE SHADOW PEOPLE she'll take you on a journey with her character Kori Anderson that you've never experienced before. With Halloween on the way, this would make the perfect read some dark night with only your flashlight to keep you company.
  • The Ignoble Nobel Prize Winner on Nov. 04, 2014

    Such a fun story, complete with a struggling journalist, a grumpy ancient nobel prize winner who knows more than he's letting on, and a horde of BUGS attacking a senior citizens' facility. I enjoyed the quick pace, the well-drawn characters, and the well-written introduction to a world similar to our own but somehow very different.
  • Transient Tales Volume 1 on Nov. 08, 2014

    A well-wrought collection of dark, disturbing tales may be found herein. I've read a few of King's stories in the past, but never so many all at once. And once I started, I couldn't stop. They left me giddy with mixed feelings of horror and wonder -- and there were even a few chuckles along the way. My favorites in Volume 1 were "The God of Blood and Bone," "What We Leave Behind" (holy crap!), and "What Doesn't Kill You." Highly recommended.
  • Transient Tales Volume 2 on Nov. 08, 2014

    King has done it again. This second volume of short stories is just as compelling as her first. While these tales are more post-apocalyptic than occult in nature, readers can expect more of the same well-written prose, engaging characters, and tales that leave you staring at your Kindle with horror and wonder in equal measure. My favorites from Volume 2: "Nor Any Drop to Drink," "No Apples for Mother," and "Gifted" (what an ending!). Highly recommended. Looking forward to diving into Volume 3.
  • Transient Tales Volume 3 on Nov. 09, 2014

    Not as much humor to be found in this collection, compared to the first two, but many enjoyable tales nevertheless. My favorites: "Sweetie" (the cover story), the otherworldly "Seeing Red," the violent "Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings," and the gruesome "You Don't Want What I Get." Like King, I enjoy paranormal crime stories, and she excels at the clipped, hardboiled style. I missed the author notes preceding each story in this volume, but I was glad to find them at the end -- and in greater depth than the first two volumes.